By: Dr. Gyan Pathak
The idea of Congress-AAP alliance has travelled one step forward. Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief Arvind Kejriwal’s expression of intent before the Congress leadership Sonia Gandhi to have an alliance with the Congress is a significant development, since the birth of Congress-AAP alliance could imperil BJP’s political prospects in 5 states and Union Territories in particular and adversely affect its fortune in at least 18 states on the one hand while proportionally bolstering political fortunes of both the Congress and AAP in particular and opposition INDIA alliance in general in these states.
Coming together a step closer is significant due to several other reasons – including shedding of their inhibitions in forming alliance due to the prevailing fear of losing their respective support base and consequently their strength in their respective regions of influence among voters.
As of the latest notification issued by the Election Commission of India in May 2023, the Congress and AAP are the two out of six National Political Parties in the country. The other national political parties are Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Communist Party of India (Marxist) – CPI(M) and the National People’s Party (NPP).
In the present political scenario three national level political parties – Congress, AAP, and CPI(M) – will be part of the opposition INDIA alliance. NDA will have two national parties – the BJP and NPP which would limit their effectiveness at the national level, since NPP is mostly concentrated in Meghalaya having 28 of 60 seats in the Vidhan Sabha. It has only little influence in 3 of the 7 other states in the North East region, having 7 of 60 seats in Manipur, 5 of 60 seats in Nagaland, and 4 of 60 seats in Arunachal Pradesh. Since BSP is neither with the opposition INDIA alliance not with the NDA, BJP would have to contest singlehandedly in the rest of the country without any other national party with it. It goes without saying that the political prospect of the opposition INDIA alliance would be greatly profited by the Congress-AAP-CPI(M) coming together at the national level.
As for the AAP, it is ruling on its own in Punjab and NCT Delhi. It has considerable influence in Delhi having 62 seats out of 70 in the Vidhan Sabha and 92 out of 117 in Punjab. It has 2 seats in Goa out of 40 seats, and 5 out of 182 in Gujarat. As far as we can see through the election results of the previous Lok Sabah election since 2014, the party has politically matured and is strategically better placed. For example, in 2014 Lok Sabah election the party had contested as many as 432 seats due to initial euphoria over its political prospects, but in 2019 Lok Sabha election, its approach was strategic and concentrated its energy on 35 seats which it contested. Though it could win only 1 seat in 2019 as against 4 in 2014, it cannot be explained as losing its political strength on the ground, since the assembly elections’ results thereafter show the party’s rising political fortune.
The results of Lok Sabha election 2019 show AAP’s presence in 10 states. However, as of now, the Vidhan Sabha elections since 2019 results show the party’s presence in as many as 18 states and UTs, which is half of the entire states and UTs of the country. These 18 states and UTs are – Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan, Telangana, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh.
It should be additionally noted that AAP also has presence in 5 states and UTs municipal corporation, which include one in Assam (Guwahati), one in Chandigarh (Chandigarh), one in Delhi (Delhi), two in Gujarat (Surat and Gandhinagar), one in Madhya Pradesh (Singrauli), four in Punjab (Amritsar, Ludhiana, Batala, and Monga), and five in Uttar Pradesh (Ayodhya, Firozabad, Ghaziabad, Jhansi, and Kanpur).
Looking deep inside the municipal results, it may present a disturbing scenario for the BJP. In Guwahati AAP had won 1 out of 60, in Chandigarh 14 out of 35, in Delhi 134 out of 250, in Surat 27 out of 120, in Gandhinagar 1 out of 44, in Singrauli 5 out of 45, in Amritsar 9 out of 85, in Ludhiana 1 out of 95, in Batala 4 out of 51, in Moga 8 out of 50, in Ayodhya 1 out of 60, in Firozabad 1 out of 70, in Ghaziabad 3 out of 100, in Jhansi 1 out of 60 and in Kanpur 1 out of 110.
As for legislative assemblies are concerned, AAP had bagged 0.87 per cent of votes in election held in 2018 in Chandigarh, 53.57 per cent in 2020 in Delhi, 6.77 per cent in 2022 in Goa, 12.92 per cent in 2022 in Gujarat, 0.48 per cent in 2019 in Haryana, 1.10 per cent in 2022 in Himachal Pradesh, 0.23 per cent in 2019 in Jharkhand, 0.58 per cent in 2023 in Karnataka, 0.66 per cent in 2018 in Madhya Pradesh, 0.10 per cent in 2019 in Maharashtra, 0.09 per cent in 2018 in Meghalaya, 0.75 per cent in 2018 in Nagaland, 0.06 per cent in 2019 in Odisha, 42.01 per cent in 2022 in Punjab, 0.38 per cent in 2018 in Rajasthan, 0.06 per cent in 2018 in Telangana, 3.31 per cent in 2022 in Uttarakhand, and 0.38 per cent in 2022 in Uttar Pradesh. It is also to be noted that the seats where the APP contested it gained higher percentage of votes share which was reduced in average when spread in the entire states or UTs, even where the party did not contest.
The picture is clear: any bilateral alliance between Congress and AAP may be mutually beneficial to both the parties. The current ground reality of political situation suggests that AAP may have major interest in five states – Delhi have 7 Lok Sabah seats, Goa (2), Gujarat (26), Punjab (13) and Haryana (10). There are altogether 58 Lok Sabha seats in these states.
BJP had won 7 seats in Delhi with 56.56 per cent of vote share, 1 in Goa (51.18 per cent), 26 in Gujarat (62.21 per cent), 2 in Punjab (9.63 per cent), and 10 in Haryana 58.2 per cent in 2019 Lok Sabha election totalling 46 out of 58. If Congress and AAP ally together in these states it can certainly jeopardise the BJP’s prospects while proportionally benefit the bilateral alliance, while would benefit the Opposition India alliance in 13 other states.
Only 2024 Lok Sabha election result could reveal the actual benefits and losses of the opposition INDIA alliance and the NDA or BJP. However, it would be significant to note some of the facts that of the 2019 general election when both the Congress and the AAP had contested separately triggering division of anti-BJP votes dampening their political fortunes while proportionately improving the BJP’s political prospects. Additionally, there was swing of votes in favour of BJP due to polarisation of Hindu votes after the Pulwama attack in Jammu and Kashmir.
The swing of votes in favour of the BJP in Delhi was 10.46 per cent, making its votes share 56.86 per cent. It could well witness decline below 50 per cent losing majority of seats it has now. In Goa it has only 51.19 per cent share of votes, and hence could lose its lone seat.
In Gujarat BJP had gained 62.21 per cent of votes in 2019 Lok Sabha election, however, the Vidhan Sabha election results in 2022 show that its share of votes has considerably reduced to 52.50 per cent. Congress-AAP alliance can considerably reduce the vote share of BJP below 50 per cent in which case BJP may lose some of the Lok Sabha seats in the state.
In Punjab, BJP had won 2 Lok Sabah seats in 2019 Lok Sabha election and had only 9.63 per cent vote share, thanks to its ally SAD. In 2020, NDA was broken with SAD leaving the alliance. BJP’s vote share reduced to 6.6 per cent. In case of Congress-AAP alliance BJP may lose both the seats.
In Haryana, BJP had won all the 10 seats in the state with a vote share of 58.02 per cent in Lok Sabha election 2019. However, in the election held only 5 months after in October 2019, BJP’s vote share had drastically declined to merely 36.49 per cent. It could form the Government in alliance with JJP. There is political turmoil in Haryana due to several reasons, including differences in BJP and JJP and the recently erupted communal riots. AAP is gaining ground in the state recently, and if there would be Congress-AAP alliance, BJP’s political woes can be unimaginable, ie could even lose all its seats if the rift between BJP and JJP widens further. JJP’s vote share in 2019 Vidhan Sabha election was 14.8 per cent. Even if BJP and JJP does not part ways, their combined share of votes could be reduced much below 50 per cent and thereby BJP or NDA could lose several of the seats.
This political scenario on the ground has prompted the AAP and the Congress to shed their inhibitions and go ahead for alliance. If Congress leadership and other political parties in the opposition INDIA alliance support this move and help Congress and AAP to have alliance, it would benefit the entire opposition to the frustration of the BJP. (IPA Service)